>Time for Lib Dems to support decisions, or never make them again.

>The Coalition Government is over 6 months old now and, far from being bogged down as often happens in Europe, a lot of progress has been made. Clearly there has been controversy surrounding the cuts, but genuine progress has been made too. However, while all but the most rabid right-winger in the Conservative party seems to have got on with it, the Lib Dems seems to still be discussing whether they like it or not.

The queasiness from the Lib Dem grassroots means that, instead of taking pride in the many good things that the Liberal Democrat’s have achieved in their short time in power, there is a constant feeling of apology and embarrassment. Of course every aspect of the Liberal Democrat manifesto hasn’t been imposed, but neither has the Conservative manifesto, it’s called compromise.

Whatever the progress, many Lib Dems remain opposed to the party’s involvement in government simply because it is with ‘the Tories’. There was a piece on this site in a similar vein a couple of months ago, but little has changed. This was proved at Liberal Youth Autumn Conference this weekend. Too many delegates, brought up on their parents hatred of Thatcher, and scarred by the recent row on University funding, reverted to default soggy socialism. The kind of policy that means the Lib Dems won’t be taken seriously by anyone but their members.

Tuition fees is a row that was always going to happen without a Lib Dem majority. The party had a fully costed plan before the election that could, and should, have been kept too. However, the whole issue has been railroaded by the Labour commissioned Browne Report, and Lib Dems signing the NUS’ pledge. Given the issue can’t break the coalition, on this issue only, the party should openly allow backbench MPs to vote against any rise in fees, and compromise that ministers vote for it, or better abstain. With news emerging that Lib Dem Ministers are accepting a higher cap but refusing to remove it they are proving again that they are able to play with the big boys, and at least get a compromise, even if it is not a particularly palatable one.

The party cannot continue to ask if they should be in the coalition, or ask if one with Labour  and others would be better. How could a liberal party have held up one of the most illiberal governments in recent memory and had any credit? The decisions that are having to be made are undoubtedly difficult, but unless the Lib Dems beyond Clegg, Cable, Alexander and Huhne, start showing they have the guts to see them through, the party will never have the opportunity to make such decisions again.

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